The illusion of peace negotiations in Palestine.
The continually unfolding tragedy in Kashmir and the complete alienation of its youth there reminds us of another sometimes forgotten tragedy, namely that of Palestine. A recent film “Idol” merely underlines the utter hopelessness of the situations for residents of Gaza in particular. The blatant violation of their rights as humans by the Israelis is as condemnable as is the silence by many in the world as this tragedy continues relentlessly. This film a biopic about the travails of Mohammed Assaf a wedding singer from Gaza and his successful quest to win the Arab Idol competition in Lebanon.
Today, same as in Pakistan, most of the Palestinian leaders stand discredited and their corruption exposed but there is one exception who stands out from the crowd and his name is Marwan Barghouti. According to polls if Barghouti were to contest the Palestinian presidential elections he would easily beat Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) the current Palestine president as well as Ibrahim Hanniya of Hamas. But Barghouti has been in jail for the last twelve years on charges of murder (he refused to participate in what he called was a sham trial).
A realist in his last statement smuggled from prison in 2104 he stated “The role and mission of the Palestinian authority should be reassessed so that its main mission must be in supporting and assisting a comprehensive resistance, which necessitates the immediate termination of security coordination and cooperation with Israel as this only reinforces occupation and is a tremendous detriment to the Palestinian people. We must stop betting on the illusion of peace negotiations”.
I got to know a little bit about Marwan Barghouti through his cousin Feras in Dubai, and the more I knew of him the greater was my respect for him. As a leader of the First the Second Palestinian Intifada he has played an active role in the politics of Palestine, since co-founding the Fatah youth movement (Shabiba) in 1976 at the age of 18, and to-date he remains selflessly devoted to the cause of the liberation of Palestine. We was one of the main leaders of the West Bank Intifada in 1987, from where he as exiled to Jordan and could only return after the Oslo accords.
When the second intifada took place in 2000, Barghouti was accused by Israel of being a founder of the Al Aqsa Martyr‘s Brigade, a charge he denies, but in speeches at funerals of martyrs during the intifada he did not condemn the use of force in resisting the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Infact as per his words “I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel, our future neighbor, I however reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom” and has said, “I still seek peaceful coexistence between the equal and independent countries of Israel and Palestine based on full withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.”
In 2002 Barghouti was arrested from Ramallah by the Israeli army in 2002. A phone call had alerted the Israelis to his location, after arresting him the Israeli fearing reprisals, took him away in an ambulance.
Barghouti’s and his entire family’s upright stance as well as their unwavering dedication to the Palestinian cause is well known. His cousin Feras Barghouti recalls how once his (Feras’s) wife at university saw an Israeli soldier beating up a little Palestinian boy, she managed to save the little activist only to find out that he was none other than Barghouti’s younger son. The fact that despite offers of scholarships and overseas jobs his family continues to live and work in the West bank and continue their activism is a credit to their commitment to Falastine Al Habiba (Beloved Palestine).
Barghouti’s other major attribute is his ability to talk to all factions in the Palestinian struggle, partially due to his strong clan links, his credibility and his personal financial integrity. That he can convince all factions Hamas as well as Fatah to listen to his voice, I guess is a main reason why he continues to languish in jail. In the last poll over sixty percent of Palestinians said they would vote for him if he were to stand for President.
Whether its Palestine or Kashmir it is clear – given the attitude of the occupational forces – in Barghouti’s words one should “stop betting on the illusion of negotiations”, and we should all support that the Palestinian and Kashmiri citizens “reserve the right to protect themselves against the occupation of their country and to fight for their freedom”. As Mohammed Al Assaf says in one of his songs about Gaza – “Hold your head high – that is your best weapon”- or in other words do not now submit to subjugation too much innocent blood has already been spilled.